Anticipatory prescribing for symptom control

Anticipatory prescribing refers to charts and, where appropriate, medications that are left in a person’s usual place of residence for use by visiting clinicians should problems arise with uncontrolled symptoms.

  • Patients are most vulnerable to these in the last days of life and when they are no longer able to swallow
  • The common ones are pain, nausea and vomiting, distress and agitation and respiratory secretions
  • The guidance below covers these.

There has been controversy over the best practice for clinicians to adopt following the widely publicised Gosport Enquiry.

  • General, national guidance and policies are currently under development and several members of the clinical team at St Christopher’s are closely involved with this work
  • Our current guidance reflects the developing thinking, is subject to regular review and scrutiny and will be modified as further evidence emerges around the best and safest practice to adopt
  • Our 24 hour specialist advice and support is there to back up this general guidance to ensure, as far as possible, that clinical decisions are individualised and safe.


Anticipatory Prescribing Guidance for Frail Elderly Patients (PDF) Anticipatory Prescribing Guidance for Adults (PDF) Pan London Symptom Control Medication Authorisation and Administration Record (MAAR) (PDF)

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